Carrying on from Generational Pain… we meet Our Shadow. Have you met yours yet? The shadow is simply the dark side of someones personality. A person can easily meet their shadow since it lives in the projection upon others.
Carl Jung coined the term but its also what Freud called the personal unconscious. When we begin the journey of self discovery related to adoption, abuse, rapes, abandonment…whatever it is that drives us to delve into our psyche the shadow is the first to be met. Until we know intimately our own shadow it is believed that we are only living on the surface, or existing in a facade of who we really are. Adoptees especially are good at living the life of a chameleon and so are victims of any abuse..living the secrets.
I was always told if I didn’t perform correctly or behave in a certain way I “would be sent back”, only I never knew where back was. Trauma victims live a life of duality. We function in society as expected, while keeping the shadow locked away, hidden out of fear or shame. As long as we hide our shadow or refuse to acknowledge its presence, it will be conveniently projected onto other people. Finding my biological family, writing Finding Heart Horse and The Wall of Secrets put me into a place where I was forced to examine each and every aspect of my shadow.
Practicing Buddhism is like engaging in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy since it requires you to dig deep in the trenches of what you consider to be “self” and suffering.
The first sign of shadow projection/suffering, shows up as a strong emotional reaction to anyone or anything in your world that is not in line with your beliefs. It’s that unconscious, gut reflex projecting onto others, usually in an emotionally charged verbal onslaught of criticism and blame. If you can be mindful of when this happens, you will recognize your shadow in it’s finest form. You can also see clearly by watching who your person is attracted to, either negatively or positively and the outward perceptions which are attached to the attraction….this is your shadow showing you itself…pay attention. It can be a good thing!
In Buddhism the first two of the Four Noble Truths state that: Suffering is the basic state of the human world and: that suffering arises from desire. If you look at the roots of suffering you will find the desire, the concealed attachment from which the shadow projection erupts. You can feel it physically, The gut, the nervous system, the emotion, the anger..If you can see these things and respond with compassionate, non-judgemental awareness it is eventually possible to expose the desire and release it with kindness towards yourself….relieving the suffering/the shadow.
It’s seen all the time in Adoptee groups, the anger, the pain, the rejection, the fear based living and yet, we are fortunate to witness this, not only in ourselves but others. It means we can become intimate with our own shadows, therefore becoming whole, healthy and healing in the process.
For all of us that have experienced trauma, rapes, abuse, neglect, violence, its crutial we find our own shadow and make peace with it. You will find it slinking around in the secrets, the dark slimy alleys and the ghost filled rooms of your heart and soul.
To have a shadow is not to be flawed, but to be complete.
You cannot defeat it. Just accept that fact right off the bat. What you can do is be friends with it and expose it to the light and find acceptance and compassion for yourself.
The world of Adoption if full of secrets as all the other worlds of trauma are. We were (those in my generation) raised in a society that lived secret lives inside perfect houses and church three times a week.
Finally! Finally, thru the world of cyberspace and words on pages we are able to expose those secrets and lies and free ourselves from a chained existence.
Projection doesn’t make the pain go away permanently. What it does is create a constant state of inner-vs-outer fighting while fuelling the shadow
The solution is to un-create the shadow. There is nothing in it that is beyond our power to dissolve. Instead of allowing your shadow to victimize you, grab hold of the control switch and reclaim your true function as creators of a new future.
It takes time to create our shadows and hand over the power and we need to recognize those times when we are giving away our freedom to the shadow.
Keeping Secrets from yourself and others. Forms of secrecy are denial, deliberate deception, fear of exposing who you are, and conditioning by a dysfunctional family.
Holding onto guilt and shame. Recognize no one is perfect. When you feel ashamed of your mistakes the shadow gains more power.
Making yourself and others wrong. Judgment is guilt wearing a moral mask to disguise its pain. If you can’t release your guilt/shame it’s so easy to pass them on to others.
Needing someone to blame. If you decide your pain is a moral issue you will have no trouble blaming someone else you feel is inferior in some way.
Ignoring your own weakness while criticizing those around you. This is the process of projection. If you feel the problem is with another..you have projected your own fear instead of taking responsibility for it.
Separating yourself from others. When it becomes “them” and “us” we always think outside is the good one. Isolation increases a sense of fear and suspicion and the shadow loves that.
Struggling to keep evil at bay. I know we have all survived incredible traumas but when we think evil is just around the corner (which is our own creation or illusion) we give the shadow huge amounts of power.
It’s a process for all of us. Once you remove the power from your shadow by exposing the above processes that fuel it you need to make opposite choices to escape and be the one in control. Yeah, I know. Easier said than done..she says with a grin. It’s challenging and tiring doing all this self exploration. The freedom it allows is well worth it.
You have choices. They all come with steps that I will write in the next blog. Stop projecting.
Detach and let go.
Give up self judgment.
Rebuild your emotional body.
The shadow has persuaded us to blame others and not take responsibility. It tells us we are unworthy of love and respect. it promotes anger and fear.
The shadow lies…..